Former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh [ Images ] recently told The Indian Express that he knew for a fact that Pakistani terrorist Mast Gul, who spearheaded the siege of the Chrar-e-Sharief shrine in Kashmir [ Images ] in 1995, was "escorted to the Line of Control [ Images ]" after he had "vacated the dargah".
Mast Gul led a large group of terrorists into the Chrar-e-Sharief shrine which led to a stand-off with the Indian Army [ Images ] for nearly two months.
In the end, the shrine burnt down under mysterious circumstances. The debate on whether the army was involved in the arson or whether the terrorists destroyed the shrine continues 17 years later.
The army maintains that the terrorists burnt down the shrine; the terrorists claim the army started the fire to flush them out. Twenty terrorists died in the incident.
Although Jaswant Singh does not elaborate who led Gul to the Line of Control and why this was done, individuals who were part of that operation insist no deal was struck to escort Gul out of the country
Some foreign journalists, who had investigated the issue, believe that the dargah was burnt down by Gul in an attempt to escape.
Adrian Levy is the author of the controversial book The Meadow, which deals with a brutal kidnapping that paved the way for the 9/11 terror strike.
Levy has spent a lot of time trying to dig out information about Mast Gul. He told rediff.com that after discussing the incident with many insiders in Pakistan, it was clear that the shrine was torched on the orders of Mast Gul.
"They freely admit that this was done to worsen the reputation of trigger-happy India security forces. They then fled, without assistance, winning rewards from the leadership in Pakistan that regarded them as heroes," he said.
Levy added that Mast Gul was later ostracised inside Pakistan as the act of burning down the shrine was considered desperate and unIslamic.
Former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing C D Sahay and other officials involved in the operation had stated that there was no deal to escort Gul to the Line of Control. Although security forces had been accused by many of burning down the shrine, Indian officials knew it was part of Gul's escape plan.
There was no question of escorting Gul to the Line of Control after he burnt down the revered shrine, they point out.